The prevalence and treatment of people with Asperger's Syndrome in the criminal justice system

2017-05-19T13:44:31Z (GMT) by Ann Browning Laura Caulfield
Clinical knowledge of Asperger's Syndrome and other Autistic Spectrum Disorders has developed enormously since Hans Asperger's early definition of 'autistic psychopathy' in 1944, yet societal misunderstandings persist and recent research claims that individuals with Asperger's Syndrome are potentially over-represented within the criminal justice system. Furthermore, numerous authorities have expressed concern that those working within the criminal justice sector lack the requisite training to respond effectively to those with Asperger's Syndrome and consequently affected individuals experience particular difficulty in negotiating the criminal justice process. This article critically explores existing research in this area, investigating potential links between Asperger's Syndrome and criminality and looks at the level of understanding of this syndrome by the criminal justice system. As Asperger's Syndrome is associated with reasonable intellectual ability, it presents greater issues for the identification and treatment of people with the syndrome if they come into contact with the criminal justice system. The authors highlight the need for further research into this complex issue, and suggest that those who work within the criminal justice system should be aware of and have access to training and/or appropriately trained colleagues in order that the needs of this particularly vulnerable group might be more effectively met. © The Author(s) 2011.